Good Humor and Goregous Scenes Make up for the Frustrating Camera
To be honest I am a little bit surprised at the apparent glowing reviews this game seems to be getting. I will admit that it certainly did not receive the attention it should have last year, but it certainly does not stand on its own as a AAA title.
The quick synopsis of the story is that you play as Monkey, a hulky, top heavy man with a vocal sense of cynicism to everything that is going on around him. He is enslaved by a 20 something looking teenager (they do say she is a teen in the game folks) who has an innocent view of the world. And off they go on their adventure as stereotypical tropes come into play as the female lead constantly puts herself into danger due to the apparent inability to control her emotions.
The game has a few things fighting for and against it that will make it a love/hate relationship depending upon how much some of the failings bother you. The game is a gorgeous looking one with some impressive vistas in the place settings. The world that the characters are placed into is a dilapidated earth (mostly New York) set after some apocalypse. The levels are mostly setup as confined elevated settings in which you hash out either climbing puzzles or some battles. All and all thought they are very good to look at.
The fighting itself is simply "OK". While there are some cool battle sequences, there is no real combat system to the game. I also found many of the battles frustrating simply because the game designers decide to throw enemies at you in volume to manage the difficulty. While not in and of itself a terrible crime a poor camera and an almost worthless dodge move make you finding yourself pushed into a corner with 3-4 enemies on top of you a common affair. The camera in many of the levels of the game is fixed. Not only is it fixed, but it often times switches fixed position or from a free camera to a fixed on at moments that disorient you. More than once I found myself pushing right on the directional pad, only to find the camera suddenly change on me and have my character swing around in the opposite direction.
As I mentioned before the battle mechanics are "OK". While the first few fighting sequences are satisfying the mash away at the enemy style gets old quickly. There is an upgrade system that allows you to improve your character and purchase some new fighting moves, but there are only 3-4 and to be honest, the upgrade system makes you mostly choose between upgrading your health or the fighting items. I also just want to mention as an aside that this game has the slowest boat/river sequence I have ever experience. It is like Mass Effect elevators slow.
Apart from the battles in levels there is a light puzzle solving element that involves Monkey's climbing abilities. This was sort of a lost opportunity here, because most of the puzzle elements were incredibly easy to spot and simply were a matter of monkey climbing to them rather then using climbing as a puzzle mechanic. I will give the game credit though that the climbing in the game was fast and never frustrating. It had some excellent and smooth animations as well.
Now, while it seems like I am getting down on this game a lot, there a decent story to be had. The banter between the two main characters is clever and fun and you can see a relationship developing a la Prince of Persia. There is a touching moment near the beginning with a fish tank and an allegory to life. The humor really takes off once you meet the character Pigsy about 2/3's of the way through the game and some of the story resolution at the end is good. It is overall a pretty quick game so if you are looking for some eye candy and some fun humor then give it a go. If you are looking for an in depth brawler though, then this is no Bayonetta. You will be mashing your buttons away.